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More banking changes for Vero Beach
BY IAN LOVE - STAFF WRITER (Week of April 22, 2010)

While the demise of Riverside Bank last weekend left Vero Beach with yet another community bank consumed by a Canadian behemoth, executives from the last local bank swallowed up by Canadians are preparing to mount a comeback. 

Newcomer CenterState Bank of Florida, with 38 branches in Central Florida, is planning to open its first location in Vero Beach in June managed by the team that a few years ago was providing relationship banking from the old Indian River National Bank. 

Riverside was shut down by the government last Friday and its branches were immediately taken over by TD Bank, the American subsidiary of Toronto- Dominion Bank, the second largest bank in Canada. 

Indian River National, in 2008, was acquired by RBC Bank, the American subsidiary of Toronto-Dominion Bank’s archrival, Royal Bank of Canada, the largest Canadian bank. 

The seizure of Riverside last Friday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had been long anticipated, and by acquiring its assets and branches but not all its liabilities, TD Bank now becomes a major banking player in the region, with 58 branches up and down the Treasure and Space coast. 

With the Canadian capital comes more financial security, but at least some measure of loss of the local control that community banks thrive upon. 

Riverside in the 1980s and Indian River in the 1990s built their reputations on friendly, first-rate service and knowledge of the local economy. 

The entry of TD into the local market chased off Stuart-based Seacoast National Bank, which had raised $200 million from investors to make a bid for Riverside. However, the terms to which TD agreed, including assuming more of the Riverside debt than is normal in these takeover scenarios, made a Seacoast bid untenable. 

It is unclear if Seacoast, which maintains 8 branches in Vero Beach and Sebastian, will continue to look to expand into Indian River County. 

To be fair, the bigger banks – at least those with a four-star balance sheet like TD Bank and RBC Bank -- bring security smaller banks can’t overcome with better customer service. 

Where Riverside struggled under the weight of loans to loyal customers gone bad due to a sinking economy, TD has $140 billion in assets. 

In fact, it has promised all the branch tellers they would keep their jobs and due to the extended hours of operation, said it will be looking to hire in the coming weeks. 

The changeover to TD Bank has thus far been seamless for former Riverside customers, who even on Saturday had access to their online accounts and ATMs. 

Should the TD conversion continue to be as smooth, it will be a far cry from the RBC takeover from the former Indian River National Bank. Though customers were promised a seamless transition to the Canadian heavyweight, they awoke to find bank cards that didn’t work and different rules for handling deposits that left some businesses short of cash. 

It is into this recent past that Center- State will enter the Indian River County financial scene. CenterState is also a four-star bank, according to BauerFinancial (of the 285 banks headquartered in Florida only 51 hold a four- or five-star rating), and has assets of $1.8 billion. 

CenterState has said it intends to focus on being a “relationship” bank that will court customers with an emphasis on service and local connections. Its initial Vero Beach banking office, which will be located at the old Fletcher’s Appliance building on U.S. 1 and State Road 60, will be run by former Indian River National Bank CEO Andy Beindorf. He is also bringing on board former IRNB employees Dan Bockhorst, Diana Walker, Chris Bieber and Chris Pensch to head up his team. 

“People want a full-service community bank and with Riverside and Indian River National Bank no longer here, there is a void,” said CenterState advisor Karl Steene. “We think that leaves an opening.”